NEWS

Neosho school district receives ‘distinction’ honor

Rick Rogers

For the first time since the 2003-04 school year, the Neosho R-5 School District was awarded the “Distinction in Performance” award from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The Neosho R-5 School District is one of nearly 300 school districts in Missouri that has earned the state's prestigious “Distinction in Performance” award for academic progress and achievement during the last school year (2006-07), state education officials announced Wednesday.

Dr. Richard Page, Neosho R-5 School District superintendent, said, “this is something that the district has been focusing on and will continue to focus on for years to come. It is a measuring stick on how well our students are prepared compared to other schools around the state. It has been the work of the staff to see us return to this level of accomplishment. We have excellent people working with some great students.”

A total of 294 school districts qualified for the annual recognition, which is determined by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Of this year’s recipients, 247 are K-12 districts; 47 are K-8 districts. Last year, 235 districts qualified for the award.

“Last year, we were one point away from this award, and two years ago we were a long ways away from it,” Page said. “Our test scores two or three years ago were too low.

We were a long ways from where we needed to be on meeting the MAP. I think the reason for the turnaround is we are teaching more on what is being tested, and I believe the teachers feel a little more connected on what it is they are being asked to teach and what is being assessed.”

The Distinction in Performance award is based on the 14 academic performance standards that are now used in the accreditation of all public school districts. K-8 school districts are covered by a portion of these standards. The standards are based on scores from the state-mandated MAP tests, graduation rate, attendance, ACT scores, and other indicators.

“Education is the most important, critical and significant investment we can make in our future,” Gov. Matt Blunt said. “I pledged to the people of Missouri that my administration would renew our state’s commitment to education, and I have kept that pledge.

Education funding has been, and will continue to be, my highest budget priority.

“I commend Missouri educators and students for their hard work and progress. By maintaining a strong focus on achievement and accountability in all schools, we can help all students have a brighter future,” he said.  

To qualify for the award this year, K-8 districts had to meet 6 of 7 performance standards, including all of those based on the results of MAP tests.  K-12 districts had to meet 13 out of 14 standards, including all of the MAP-based measures.

Under the state’s accreditation process, known as the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP), each school district is evaluated at least once every five years.

The Distinction in Performance award is based on the same criteria used in the accreditation process, but it provides an annual confirmation and recognition of a district’s consistent performance.

In the spring, school district officials will attend a banquet hosted by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to receive the honor.

Neosho Daily News